GULFPORT, MS – Mississippi Aquarium successfully rehabilitated and released ten endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, March 26, 2021. Hundreds of community members came out to the beach to witness the release.
On December 14, 2020, twenty-five cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were transported to Mississippi Aquarium (MSAQ) by a group called Turtles Fly Too. The endangered turtles needed veterinary care and rehabilitation after becoming stranded along the eastern coast of the United States. The cold-blooded turtles became trapped when their southbound migration was delayed, forcing them to stay in waters that cooled down gradually as the season progressed. When the turtles were discovered on the shore, the long exposure to cold water caused them to become lethargic and stop eating regularly.
The turtles, initially rescued by New England Aquarium and Marine life Center, needed time and medical attention however the facilities in the northeast were at capacity. Mississippi Aquarium volunteered to take some turtles and aid in their recovery. MSAQ veterinary staff performed complete exams on each turtle and formulated individual treatment plans. Over the past few months, the veterinary team has nursed the animals back to health, and ten of the sea turtles are ready for release.
"Each rehabilitated turtle that is returned to the ocean is important for the survival of the species and Mississippi Aquarium is proud to contribute to the survival of these endangered sea turtles," said Alexa Delaune, DVM Mississippi Aquarium Vice President of Veterinary Care.
Although Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the most endangered sea turtle in the world, they are also the most common sea turtle found in Mississippi waters. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles face many threats to their survival including bycatch, ocean pollution and habitat loss.
This effort was made possible through a collaboration between The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, Turtles Fly Too, Mississippi Aquarium, MS Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS).
About Mississippi Aquarium
Mississippi Aquarium, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a premier institution delivering an awe-inspiring experience that supports animal research and conservation. Mississippi Aquarium is committed to animal welfare and the majesty of the gulf and beyond. The Aquarium sits on 5.8-acres and contains over 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits connected by landscaped walkways with plants that represent all the physiographic regions of Mississippi. For more visit msaquarium.org
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